May 2010


Amy Grant’s song Angels Watching Over Me ran through my head again and again as we pulled the broken glass out of the back window of the truck cab. Thankfully, it was on the dog’s side of the truck, not the baby’s. Though Chili just about leapt into my lap when the rock (or whatever) shattered the window with a resounding CRACK, the baby slept soundly through it. I don’t know why God wanted/allowed us to be 15 minutes late for lunch today as a result of this, but He knows. And that is enough. (Why has it taken me SOOO long to learn this lesson?!)

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“Why do you guys need additional training after thousands of hours of military flying?” people ask us frequently. While flying fighters is demanding and specialized, mission aviation is not really any less so. It is just different. We have trained to use aircraft as weapons, both offensive and defensive. Now we’re training to guide them safely into and out of very challenging airstrips and terrain.

For example, here are some of the problems we trained for in and near Nampa, ID:
– Moriah – landing zone slopes 10% then levels off to 2%. On take-off, you start on a 2% slope that rapidly increases to ~6% before lift-off.
– Johnstone – only a 2% avg slope, but has a nice curve on south end and the whole runway curves slightly.
– Steiner – about a 10deg turn halfway down and about 1.5% slope.
– Murphy – about 2% slope; nice greasy burger place across the street
– Holdout – 4% average slope, one way in, one way out because its up against the foot of a mountain
– One Way – runs along a ridge, ~5% slope; one way in and out
– Owyhee Res State (28u) – had a crashed plane next to it when I was there. The visible strip was only as wide as our wheel-base.
– ZX Ranch (pvt) – 4% slope, slightly curved; must take off toward the valley but can land either way
– Loomis (pvt – this is where we want to live!!) – 1700’ long w/500+ drop on east end! And views of snow-capped peaks and moutains all around.
– Garden Valley (u88) – WOW. Gorgeous! Nice wide, 3% sloped grass strip beside mountain stream… Camping anyone?
– Idaho City (u98) – paved, gravel, dirt, grass, fades into forest on SW end
– Graham – 2900’ long with about an average 4% upslope that varied over the length. Too wet to use the south 1/3. A forest service cabin on the strip can be reserved & rented. Any takers?
– Weatherby – 2200’ w/trees on both ends & no go-around capability from below about 100 feet when landing to the east (uphill). In a narrow valley – beautiful!
– Atlanta – right up against steep slopes on 2 sides. One way in and one way out. We opted not to land there because the departure goes down a narrow canyon and the winds were getting squirrely.
– Pine – short, wide, fun strip on the north end of a lake. Side slope towards the water. Crooked final approach to the south due to terrain.

So now we have sort of “advanced flying degrees” in two different specific fields within aviation. Can’t wait to use these skills for things that matter!

After dinner, we prepared for a short walk, driven by 21-foot-trailer fever. As we donned jackets, carrier and Zoe, Slick realized he hadn’t yet combed his hair today.

Meanwhile, I’ve been pondering the solidity of pigs versus that of rocks, trees, bushes or goats – and which would cause a low-flying airplane the least damage. Apparently pigs are right up there with rocks! Who knew!

In direct answer to your prayers, God is gracing us with much humor and many unforeseen opportunities as we reverse our roles for the month. Thank you for praying!

Yesterday as I tried to remember what we forgot to pack for hiking, I stood in the trailer and put on my shades, which Sandi had just taken from Zoe. As I looked around to jog my memory, something wet dripped onto my cheek. Mystified as to where it had come from, I glanced in the mirror and saw the stringy drop descending from my shades. Ah, baby spit!

Friday Sandi called me over to see Zoe rocking back and forth on her hands and knees. I my mind’s eye I could just see her rock back and forth, back and forth, back and…then take off across the trailer at top crawling speed! It won’t be long now.

As we looked back over the last five thousand miles, God has definitely answered your prayers for safety! Pondering that, we realized that here in a land where most of our basic necessities can be filled by a quick trip to Wal-Mart, it is not always obvious that God is responsible for even the everyday and mundane, for in [Jesus] all things hold together (Col 1:17). So praise Him with us for the abundant way He has answered your prayer:

In state #2 of the ten we’ve traversed since leaving Idaho in March, an angel was flying fast! At some point as we drove down out of the Colorado Rockies, the bearing on the trailer’s left axel came apart spewing grease all over the rim of the tire and the road. Miraculously the wheel stayed put over steep, twisty Berthoud Pass (11,000 + feet) and down twenty more miles of mountainous interstate. We didn’t notice it until we bedded down for the night…“coincidentally” less than a mile from a repair shop! Thank you, friends, for the prayer cover!

As we return to Idaho for Donna’s flying training, please join us in asking Him for continued emotional, mental and spiritual preparation for our August departure, as well as sanity for all while Zoe’s Mommy and Daddy play reverse rolls for the next month ( 🙂 )!

Where are we now? View the map.